we went to the dominican studies institute with my mellon fellows workshop last week, wyo was with me because he was sick. the director of the program saw him and immediately started melting, speaking to him in spanish and going in to kiss him. my baby? "NO! NO TOUCH MY BODY!" the director was amazing, she said, "you're right, it is your body, and i'm sorry." and i was happy for it; i most enjoy the moments where i don't have to step in to moderate between wyo and anyone else in the world. the professor made her move, wyo didn't like it and said his piece, she respected him and acknowledged him, all i had to do was stand by and smile. i used to warn new people, that wyo is...my son...very very very sensitive, bright and gregarious but extremely introverted. you have to disarm him to get close, and even then, he is very clear with his boundaries. i realized at some point that warning people about how he behaves is a bit like handing them my perception of his identity before he gets to offer it himself, and at the same time a bit like apologizing for him, maybe even diminishing him. there's an interesting aspect of parenting that concerns how we talk to others about our children; what children hear us as parents say about them feeds how they form their identities. how will my child view himself if i'm pathologically warning others about his temperament? am i protecting him, myself or others?
i didn't get to say "no" as much as i would have wanted when i was a younger person. i love my son's no. often inconvenient, sometimes far too loud and accompanied by a great deal of extra scorpion melodrama, still, i love them. he says "no" for all the times i couldn't. of course, i kiss my baby all the time, without thinking or even noticing, but also, i've trained myself to ask, "may i kiss you? do you want a hug?" if he says "no," i say "okay," no grief, no coersion, no "but mommy blah blah" because those are the passive-aggressive manipulations of abusers, and if he gets used to them from me, they'll seem familiar when he meets them in the world. we have to be allowed a "no," to really be able to say "yes." #consent
is essential to #love
. #parenting #motherhood